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Xavier Moronta
Xavier Moronta went two-for-three batting with a run scored and an RBI.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Baseball Falls in Extra Innings in Sun Belt Tournament, Takes on Dukes Next

App State belted three home runs and put together a pair of four-run innings, but were outlasted by Troy 10-9 in ten innings in the Sun Belt Tournament opener at Riverwalk Stadium.

Trailing 7-5 in the top of the ninth inning, the Mountaineers (27-24) sent nine men to the plate to regain the lead. CJ Boyd led off by grounding a ball underneath the glove of the Troy third baseman and made it to second base on the play. Xavier Moronta then singled to put runners at the corners before being lifted for pinch runner Grey LaSpaluto. Luke Drumheller made it a one-run game by lifting a sac fly to left, and then the Mountaineers loaded the bases on a Hayden Cross single and a Golston Gillespie walk.

Two batters later, Alex Reed was hit by a pitch to force in a run and tie the ballgame at 7-7. One batter later, Jonathan Xuereb, batting for the first time in the ballgame after coming on as a defensive replacement, ripped a single through the right side to score a pair and put App State ahead, 9-7.

Troy answered with a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and then won it with a walk-off double in the tenth.

App State got up 5-0 early via the long ball. Drumheller blasted an opposite field solo homer in the first inning to help the Mountaineers strike first.

Then the Mountaineers plated four runs in the top of the fifth inning. Reed led off the inning with a home run that curled inside the right field foul pole to make it 2-0. After Andrew Terrell singled with one out, Boyd cranked a two-run home run to left field to double the App State advantage. Boyd has now hit ten home runs in his last 12 games.

Moronta and Drumheller extended the rally with back-to-back singles after the Boyd long ball, and Cross singled up the middle to make it 5-0 Mountaineers. Moronta has now hit safely in 17 consecutive games.

Xander Hamilton started out strong for the Mountaineers, striking out five over four scoreless innings to begin his outing. However, after waiting through a long top of the fifth inning, Hamilton issued back-to-back walks followed by a home run in the bottom half of the frame, and exited one batter later.

Collin Welch followed with 3.2 innings in relief and picked up three strikeouts. Jackson Steensma was one out away from locking down the save when the Trojans forced extras with a ninth inning home run. LaSpaluto finished the game on the mound, in addition to recording his first at-bat and playing left field for the first time this season.

The Mountaineers will look to stave off elimination Thursday as they face seventh-seeded James Madison at 10 a.m. ET. The Dukes fell 7-1 to Southern Miss on Wednesday.